Broadband provider starts to show TV commercials based on viewing and surfing habits

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The Belgium provider of cable broadband services, Telenet, will start with a pilot where it shows personalized TV commercials to its customers based on their TV viewing and web surfing habits.

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The pilot should start in November and users can choose to participate by selecting one of four levels on which the personalization will be based. The levels are called ‘general’, ‘targeted’, ‘personal’ and ‘unique’.

With the ‘general’ profile information about the subscription and the location of the customers is used to inform them about products of the provider . The ‘targeted’ profile uses TV viewing habits, but only to show personal recommendations based on an algorithm. The ‘personal’ level uses viewing habits to target TV commercials and the ‘unique’ level combines the viewing and surfing habits of Telenet customers to show them relevant TV commercials. Personalization is per household and not per person.

During the test only two commercial TV channels are participating and there is a limit of 10 advertisers. All Telenet customers with a digicorder (digital TV) will automatically participate which means they have to opt-out instead of opt-in. By default each household is in the ‘personal’ level but it’s possible to select another level through the Telenet website.

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The Belgium provider is performing the test because advertisers are very interested in personalized commercials that are as relevant to the user as possible. As an example, showing an advertisement for baby diapers is uninteresting to groups such as people in their 40’s or teenagers. Without personalization these groups still see baby diaper ads and advertisers still have to pay for them.

Personalized commercials should also make TV advertising more competitive to internet advertising where personalized ads are very common. Personalized ads can also be sold at a higher price and relevant ads are usually perceived as less annoying.

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